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Black Gold I

November 1, 2008 – April 9, 2009

African Art Museum
950 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC

Location: Sublevel 1

In Black Gold I—a large-scale, mixed media piece—artist Yinka Shonibare (b. 1962, England) returns to the technique of painting on fabrics, commonly referred to as Dutch wax cloth, that are sold widely in Africa but were originally manufactured in Holland and England, and are based on patterns originating from Indonesia. To Shonibare, they represent the complexity of identity and cross-cultural interdependence. Likewise, oil—"black gold"—is a multicultural enterprise, and one that is of profound importance in his former home of Nigeria. The bold outlines and grand scale of this work also recall the vivid canvases of the abstract expressionists and pop artists, and reflect Shonibare's talent for creating work in response to pivotal moments in the history of art. At once visually and intellectually compelling, this work invites contemplation on such topics as imperialism, the environment, war, aesthetic movements, art, and cultural identity.